How to Become a CNA in Washington DC

How to Become a CNA in Washington DC

If you want to start your career in healthcare the fastest and easiest way possible, becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) should be part of your list.

Luckily for you, Washington DC has a considerably higher pay for CNAs than other states. In a year, you can earn as much as $39,830. Not bad at all!

Before you reap the benefits, you must comply with all the requirements the state needs.

We know going through checklists can be a bit intimidating, so we’ve made it easier for you!

In this article, we’ll enumerate the 5 steps for how to become CNA in Washington DC.

You’ve read it right! 5 steps are all it takes.

Let’s get right to it.

How to Become a CNA in Washington DC in 5 Easy Steps

Step #1: Be qualified to enroll in a CNA program and training 

Step #2: Choose a state-approved CNA program

Step #3: Take the National Nursing Assistant Assessment Program (NNAAP) Examination

Step #4: Get your certification

Step #5: Apply in any healthcare-related facility

Step #1: Be qualified to enroll in a CNA program and training

Washington DC has several prerequisites before you join any CNA program.

Make sure you:

  • Are at least 18 years old
  • Have a government-issued ID
  • Have at least a high school diploma or GED
  • Submit to a fingerprint screening
  • Be fluent in reading, writing, and speaking English
  • Pass a criminal background check

The first step does seem like it’s already asking for a lot, but these are important for you to pass the examinations and actual application later on.

Step #2: Choose a state-approved CNA program

Washington DC requires you to finish a 120-hour CNA program in any of the state’s accredited schools.

The program is divided mainly into 3 parts: 45 hours of classroom instruction, 30 hours of clinical training, and the remaining 45 hours of nursing practice.

There’s a lot to learn in a CNA program. 

You can expect to touch on health and safety laws, ethical and professional practices, infection control, observing and documenting vital signs, patient safety, and communication skills, especially towards other healthcare professionals.

Since you’re also in direct contact with the patient, you will also learn practical skills such as bathing, dressing, feeding patients, first aid, and CPR. 

Depending on the school, you can finish a program as early as 4 weeks. But you don’t need to rush because the state encourages quality learning and preparedness before you take the exam. Why?

CNA-accredited programs range from $400 to $1200. Yes, it’s quite expensive. So, maximize the time you spend with the instructors and experts in the field.

Plus, the more you understand and digest what you’ve learned, the higher your chances of passing on the first try will be. And ultimately, you can apply to healthcare facilities earlier.

For a link of accredited schools and programs, click this link to find out more. 

Step #3: Take the National Nursing Assistant Assessment Program (NNAAP) Examination

Once you’re done with the program and you’ve reviewed enough, it’s time to take the National Nursing Assistant Assessment Program (NNAAP) Examination.

This exam consists of 2 parts and is offered by Pearson VUE where you can schedule and take the test. 

The first part is a 70-item multiple-choice test which you may take in a written or oral form. 

60 questions will test how much information you’ve grasped and retained, while 10 questions will gauge your ability to speak and comprehend English. 

You must finish this exam within 2 hours and get a score of at least 80%. If you reach this number, then you can proceed to take the second part of the exam.

The second part is application and demonstration. In this portion, you must prove competency in at least 5 skills required to do the job. One of these skills will be hand-washing. You will have 25 minutes to complete this second half. 

Step #4: Get your certification

If you pass the NNAAP, then you will immediately earn the credential as one of Washington DC’s certified nursing assistants. The District of Columbia Nurse Aide Registry will list your name right here

However, if you don’t see your name listed, then you failed the exam.

You have three attempts within the next two years to retake the test. If you still have not succeeded, you must retrain to be eligible for another NNAAP exam. 

Step #5: Apply in any healthcare-related facility

Once your name has been listed on the registry, congratulations! You are now an official CNA. So, where should you look for a job?

You can try searching for roles in nursing care facilities, medical and surgical hospitals, living facilities for the elderly, and home health care services.

There are also some CNAs who get hired directly by clients as their personal CNAs.

Frequently Asked Questions on How to Become a CNA in Washington DC

I have an active CNA license from another state. Can I use this in Washington DC?

Yes, you can use your current active CNA license as long as you submit an endorsement.

Aside from submitting this form, you also have to show copies of your social security cards, photo identification, and the active license.

How much should I prepare when applying to become a CNA?

The main expenses in the application process are the CNA programs and the examination fees. As mentioned above, CNA programs can cost up to $1200. But you can get this reimbursed if the healthcare facility you join is certified for Medicare/ Medicaid reimbursement. 

On the other hand, all the exams have different costs:

  • Written examination: $40
  • Oral Examination: $50
  • Skills Assessment: $65
  • First Time Test Fee: $12


Becoming a CNA is the first stage in the healthcare industry, but don’t underestimate the preparation you’ll need to become one.

You need to complete the program and training, qualify with your personal information and records, and pass the examinations.

Follow the steps listed above to guide you on your journey. 

Now all that’s left to do is begin!

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